Sunday, 27 September 2015

Lincoln ginger biscuits and Grantham gingerbread

Mr CC and I had a lovely long weekend in Lincoln recently (Lincoln is in Lincolnshire – England’s second largest county); it’s very hard to find much wrong with a county that has two fabulous ginger biscuit recipes. I was going to split the recipes into separate posts but spent so long wondering which one to post first that I decided it would be easier to do a double post!

Grantham gingerbread:

Lincoln ginger biscuits:

The biscuits are quite different; their only shared feature is ginger. Lincoln ginger biscuits are a crisp ginger biscuit with a buttery/syrup background that adds depth of flavour.  They are a crisper, more buttery version of the ginger biscuits you will typically find in any supermarket.  Grantham gingerbread is more unusual – it is a pale gingery, buttery rusk of a biscuit with a hollow, almost honeycomb style centre; not like any other gingerbread.  Utterly addictive, we worked our way through the majority of the box we brought back in one sitting.  It was only because we closed the box and moved it out of arm’s length that any survived to the next day!

Like many great recipes, Grantham gingerbread came about by a mistake.  In the 1740s William Egglestone ran a coaching house in Grantham where people would stop for some rest and sustenance.  He made a mistake, mixing up ingredients, for his Grantham Whetstones (a hard flat biscuit which was sold at the time) and created these puffy little delights, which were so popular he continued making them.  Sadly, so many local bakeries have closed that it’s actually hard to find Grantham gingerbread for sale anymore.  I hunted all over Lincoln and found them in one shop – this biscuit is too good to be allowed to die!

I made the biscuits per the recipes in the Lincolnshire cookbooks I picked up whilst on hols; I would make a couple of tweaks next time and note these in the ingredients listings below; mostly the tweaks are upping the amount of ginger - I like my ginger fiery!

If the biscuits alone aren’t enough to convince you to visit Lincoln then look at this – it’s the stunning cathedral, lit so beautifully at night that it glows with golden beauty!

Lincoln ginger biscuits


350g self raising flour
225g caster sugar
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger – next time I would use 4 teaspoons
115g unsalted butter
10g golden syrup – next time I would use 30g to get a better spread whilst baking
1 egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 180C/ fan oven 160C/ 350F/ gas mark 4.

Line two baking sheets with non stick foil.

Place the self raising flour, caster sugar, bicarb and ginger in a bowl and mix together.

Heat the butter and syrup together in a pan until melted and combined.

Pour over the dry ingredients whilst mixing.

Add the egg, again, whilst mixing.

Bring the dough together into a firm, stiff ball.

Take walnut sized pieces of dough and roll into balls.

Place on the baking sheet – well spaced – and flatten.  Place 12 per tray (I got 28 in total)

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Leave to cool on the baking sheets before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bask in to glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Grantham gingerbread


340g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
250g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoons ground ginger – next time I would use 3 teaspoons


Preheat the oven to 150C/ fan oven 140C/ 300F/ gas mark 2.

Line two baking sheets with non stick foil.

Beat together the sugar and butter until light and whippy.

Beat in the egg.

Fold in the flour, bicarb and ginger.

Take small balls of the dough and roll into balls

Place on the baking sheet, spaced apart to allow for spreading, No need to flatten.  Place 12 per tray; I chanced my arm with 15 and the touched. (I got 30 in total)

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the trays and bake for a further 20 mins (about 40 mins in total) or until golden and puffy.

Leave to cool and firm up on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Apple cheesecake tart


I've just realised that I forgot my blog's 8th birthday a week or so back. This apple cheesecake tart more than makes up for it.  I have been trying to think of a three word combination better than that.  Bank holiday weekend? Winning lottery ticket? Tiny fluffy puppy? I’m sure there are others!

This tart is glorious mainly because of the combination of textures.  The flavours obviously work, but it’s the crispy pastry with the creamy cheesecake layer topped with the soft, juicy apples and spice.  The apple juices bake down into the cheesecake giving it a delicate fruity tang; the apple slices hold their shape but retain a little bite but still yield to gentle pressure from a spoon or fork.

This would work beautifully served warm as a dessert with vanilla ice cream.  I served it at room temperature with thick cream.  I think you could also make smaller, individual tarts which would look very pretty served for dessert with a ball of ice cream on top (or on the side).

Normally I photograph my bakes as I serve them for eating.  This one wasn’t going to be served until the evening so I decided to photograph it in the afternoon.  Tip: If you serve desserts in the kitchen and bring them through to the dining room no one notices if there’s a slice missing!  Just call me ‘Two Desserts’......(aka The Very Thoughtful Lady Who Wanted To Ensure Dessert Was OK Before Inflicting It On Anyone Else).


For the pastry:
175g plain flour
85g unsalted butter, cold
30g caster sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water

For the filling:
250g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
2 eggs
60g caster sugar

For the apples:
4 Cox’s apples, peeled, cored and sliced
70g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Start by making the pastry: place the flour and butter into a food processor and blitz until you have fine breadcrumbs (you can do this by hand using the rubbing in method if you prefer).

Add the sugar and cinnamon and blitz again.

Add the egg yolk and water and blitz until a ball of pastry just starts to form.

Tip the dough out onto a sheet of clingfilm and bring together, using your hands, to form a ball of pastry.  Handle as little as possible.

Flatten into a disc and roll out between two sheets of clingfilm so that you can line a 23cm round, loose bottomed flan tin.

Prick the base with a fork.

Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan oven 180C/400F/gas mark 6.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and line the pastry case with either baking paper or non stick foil.

Weight the paper/foil with baking beans.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the beans and paper/foil and bake uncovered for a further 5 minutes.

Leave to pastry case to cool.

Reduce the oven to 190C/fan oven 170C/375F/gas mark 5.

Now make the filling: place the cream cheese, eggs and caster sugar into a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth, well combined mixture.  You can do this in a stand mixer, or by hand if you prefer.

Pour into the part baked pastry case.

Now attend to the apples: toss the sliced apples in sugar and cinnamon.

Layer over the top of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 35 minutes or until golden and set.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Serve in generous slices with thick cream.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Caramel cupcakes

When in doubt what to bake head to the BBC Goodfood website!  That approach usually comes up trumps and it did this time too with these lovely cupcakes. Mr CC has been reminiscing of late about his long standing love of Caramac.  Therefore, when I saw the decorations required two Caramac bars I knew I would have to buy three to ensure I got the full quota of sprinkles (a bit like in The Simpsons when Marg bakes a decoy pie to satisfy Homer, so that her main pie will survive until dessert time).

The caramel cream cheese frosting is divine – so soft and with a perfect sweet/tangy contrast.  Don’t worry if it seems soft after making it – it will firm up in the fridge.  Give it as long as it needs.  The amount of frosting is more than enough for 12 cupcakes so pipe generously from the first cupcake; I hate it when I’m not sure if I have enough so pipe cautiously and then end up with leftovers.  I did experiment with reducing the sugar in the frosting but the frosting was too soft.  Surprisingly, it isn’t too sweet so don’t let the scary amount of sugar put you off.

The cake batter is stiffer than normal cupcake sponge – don’t be tempted to add milk to slacken it; the batter needs to hold its own against a caramel filling and lots of frosting.

Isn’t caramel a beautiful thing? Here’s the proof:

Now I cannot explain why, but these cupcakes are man pleasers.  Mr CC takes most of my bakes into work for his colleagues (who are exclusively male).  He said these got the most praise he could recall –from the sponge, to the frosting, to the caramac on top.  I am not a dating expert by any means but if you’re looking to bake your way to a man’s heart, this might not be a bad place to start.....


For the cupcakes:
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
175g self raising flour
2 tablespoons milk

For the frosting:
140g Carnation caramel
200g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
450g icing sugar

For the filling and decoration:
250g Carnation caramel i.e. the rest of the tin left over from the frosting
60g Caramac – this equates to 2 bars


Preheat the oven to 180C/ fan oven 160C/350F/gas mark 4.

Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper cases.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – do not skimp on this stage.

Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until well incorporated.

Fold in the flour and the milk.

Spoon into the paper cases and bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the sponges comes out clean.

Remove from the cupcake pan and leave to cool on a wire rack (NB. It is important to de-tin them straightaway or the heat retained by the metal will continue to bake the cupcakes and can make them tough).

Now make the frosting: place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth and well combined.

Spoon into a piping bag (choose whichever nozzle you prefer) and refrigerate for about 10 minutes – this will firm the frosting up to a nice pipeable consistency.

Using a cupcake (or apple) corer remove a plug of sponge from each cupcake.

Spoon the remaining caramel into each cupcake.

Pipe the chilled frosting over the top of each sponge.

Refrigerate the cupcakes.

Now make the decoration: cut the two bars of caramac into tiny pieces.

Sprinkle over the top of the cupcakes.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.